Burrows impressed the tobacco company with his glowing record in the drinks industry as chief executive of Irish Distillers from 1978 to 2000 and co-chief executive of French spirits group Pernod Ricard from 2000 to 2005.
But the Irishman’s career at Bank of Ireland has made the move controversial.
Burrows resigned from his post at BoI in May following a catastrophic year in which the bank lost €7 million ($9.9 million) and had to call in assistance from the Irish government, prompting Burrows to apologize to investors.
Still, analysts are focusing on Burrows branding and marketing experience. British American Tobacco senior independent director Nick Scheele said:
"Richard's executive career in the worldwide FMCG sector makes him an excellent choice, as does his proven ability to work with a team from various cultures and countries.
"He's also an experienced non-executive director and the Board of British American Tobacco looks forward to the additional perspective he will be able to bring."